Mayorkas Impeachment Got Shut Down Fast, But Let’s Talk Politics, Shall We?

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun3,2024

While Mayorkas’s impeachment was quickly dismissed, its politics may not be. The impeachment that was a start-and-stop process in the House became a stop-before-it-starts one in the Senate.  

The case’s elements were obscured — clear to proponents’ perspective and reversely so to opponents’ view — clouded in the conflicting collision. An airing, even of short duration, would have brought some general clarity. It was not to be, as each Democrat voted to dismiss both articles of impeachment. 

Unlike impeachment’s truncated Senate process, its politics could last much longer and be far messier for many Senate Democrats between now and November. 

On their second try, House Republicans impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on a party-line vote in February. The two impeachment articles stated Mayorkas “has repeatedly violated laws enacted by Congress regarding immigration and border security,” “knowingly” made “false statements to Congress and the American people” and avoided “lawful oversight in order to obscure the devastating consequences of his willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and carry out his statutory duties.”

Senate Democrats asserted that no impeachable offenses had been committed, while the Biden administration dismissed the impeachment as political theater. 

Of course, impeachment is a constitutional power, and the Constitution lays out a clear process for it. Many previous impeachments have had no politics to them — including those of presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. The U.S. southern border is clearly in shambles, Mayorkas has been in charge, and Mayorkas’s ultimate responsibility is to the Constitution, not the president. 

While enough existed to make impeachment’s substantive questions moot, its politics are not debatable. The impeachment shone yet another light on illegal immigration — an unwelcome issue for the administration and Biden’s lowest-rated one (just 32.3 percent positive) according to Real Clear Politics average of national polling.

For Senate Democrats, the politics of an impeachment vote was equally bad. While the administration already owned this issue, Senate Democrats did not. A vote to dismiss could only help Democrats in the bluest states. For vulnerable Democrats facing elections in November, it decidedly did not help them. And there are many such Democrats this November.

In November, 33 senate seats will be up for election. Democrats hold 23 of these. The Democrats’ narrow 51-49 Senate majority already makes this election a tight squeeze. Their number of vulnerable and potentially vulnerable candidates makes it tighter still. 

Virtually every race deemed to be close is a seat Democrats currently hold. Seven Democratic seats (Arizona, California, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and West Virginia) are open — a liability because incumbents usually win reelection and nonincumbents usually require more campaign resources. Five of the Democrats’ 2024 Senate seats are in states that were battleground states (Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin) in 2020. 

More to the point: Nine Democratic seats are less than safe in Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin. With West Virginia a goner for them, Democrats are effectively looking at a 50-50 Senate with eight seats they need to hold to keep it that way. 

How tough of a task is this? In 2020, Biden won seven of these eight seats by 50.6 percent or less — losing convincingly in both Ohio and Montana. To these eight seats, four additional could be added where Biden won by less than eleven percentage points: Maine, 53.1-44 percent; Maine, 52.4-43.5 percent, New Mexico, 54.3-43.5 percent and Virginia, 54.1-44 percent. At most a 5.5 percent swing in the popular vote could have flipped each state to Trump four years ago. 

Did Democrats think illegal immigration could not be a hot-button issue in New Mexico? Had they forgotten they lost Virginia’s governorship in 2021? With Biden polling at just 45.4 percent versus Trump in Real Clear Politics average national rematch polling, there is no reason to believe his attrition in support (from 51.3 percent in 2020) is not occurring nationwide. 

However you viewed the Mayorkas impeachment articles, its politics was brutal for Senate Democrats. Illegal immigration is one of the administration’s biggest liabilities. It is also one of the most focal, with border and sanctuary city images delivered daily. Plus, any day an event could occur that would raise the profile higher — as Laken Riley’s murder does.

Until now, Biden and his administration primarily had sole ownership of the illegal immigration issue. Forced to take a vote for the administration’s priorities — certainly not their own — Senate Democrats have bought in too. For their voters, it will personalize the issue — even candidates who didn’t vote in the Senate will be asked how they would have — in them. 

None of this is to say that Mayorkas would not have been acquitted if tried. His fate did not hang in the balance. However, Democrats’ control of the Senate now could.

J.T. Young was a professional staffer in the House and Senate from 1987-2000, served in the Department of Treasury and Office of Management and Budget from 2001-2004, and was director of government relations for a Fortune 20 company from 2004-2023.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Mayorkas Impeachment Got Shut Down Fast, But Let’s Talk Politics, Shall We?”
  1. Impeachment can be a messy ordeal, but the missed opportunity for clarity in Mayorkas’s case is concerning. The political implications may linger longer than the fast dismissal suggests. It’s a shame that the conflicting views resulted in a dead-end before a thorough airing of the facts.

  2. As a political observer, I find the quick dismissal of Mayorkas’s impeachment alarming. The lack of a thorough airing of the case’s elements only adds to the confusion surrounding the issue. It’s evident that the political fallout from this event will continue to pose challenges for Senate Democrats in the lead-up to the November elections.

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